Watch out for the heat wave

Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses.

Please remember heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches.

Victims of heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

Here are some good ways to prepare yourself well for the summer weather.

uDress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.

uDrink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty.

uAvoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless your doctor says you should do so.

uSlow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4-7 a.m.

uStay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool your house, they simply circulate the air.

uBe a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents in your neighborhood and those who do not have air conditioning.

uLearn Red Cross first aid and CPR.

While the above tips can help prevent emergencies, it is crucial to know what to do if an emergency situation arises. For more information on heat safety, contact the Shelby County Red Cross at 205-987-2792 or visit Alredcross.org.

Mary Kinard is the executive director of the Shelby County Red Cross, which is a member of Shelby County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster).